Editor’s word: George Chidi now publishes a Substack publication referred to as “The Atlanta Goal.” If you wish to assist him straight, join a paying subscription to his publication by clicking here.
As the sunshine of the redistricting tunnel shines, I believe it’s clear that the Georgia state legislature is completely keen to run over voters in north Fulton County, and Forsyth County, and the hinterlands of the state. And so they have their eye on DeKalb as nicely.
Republican lawmakers like drawing district strains proper by means of the center of municipalities as a result of it hampers the rise of highly effective neighborhood political figures and dilutes the ability of Democrats, who’re way more more likely to symbolize cities. Decatur is a nice native instance of this, however you possibly can have a look at Athens and Columbus as nicely. Chamblee, Doraville, Clarkston – all have a number of representatives.
Till now, Dunwoody has been an exception as a result of Dunwoody has been DeKalb’s Republican purple bastion on a blue battlefield. That redoubt gave means a number of years in the past; Dunwoody’s mayor and most of its metropolis council at the moment are Democrats, as is its state consultant. It gave a majority of its vote to Joe Biden in 2020.
For Republican lawmakers, there’s no good purpose to maintain all of Dunwoody’s precincts collectively in a single district anymore. So, two Democrat-heavy precincts get parceled off to a Sandy Springs district and Dunwoody picks up two Tucker precincts to switch them.
That is politics. That is – and I say this laughing aloud – completely regular. So are the ridiculous district strains south of Dunwoody on this county. And that’s as a result of there’s little that may be finished to DeKalb politically that we haven’t finished to ourselves.
DeKalb County has 16 state home districts, and 7 of them are lengthy, skinny bacon strips of territory stretching north to south. Most are a few mile large and ten miles lengthy.
Edgewood is in the identical district as the economic park at DeKalb’s southwestern nook. Druid Hills is in the identical district as each East Lake Terrace and Martin Luther King Jr. Excessive College on the southern fringe of the county. However Winona Park, lower than 1000 ft from East Lake is in a special district, related to Brownsmill Park eight miles away. The Kroger in Northlake is in the identical district as Nam Dae Mun on Memorial Drive and the Kroger on Wesley Chapel Highway. The Publix throughout city in Tucker is in a special snaky district that connects the Walmart on Memorial Drive with the Kroger on Redan Highway.
These districts aren’t noodle-shaped mockeries of the phrase “communities of curiosity” due to selections the legislature has made. They appear the way in which they do due to selections we made, or maybe higher to say, selections that white supremacy have imposed on us.
The U.S. Supreme Courtroom removed the preclearance necessities of the Voting Rights Act, however the underlying regulation stays true: legislatures can’t pack voters of colour into districts to reduce their means to elect representatives of their selection. Nor can they crack nonwhite districts aside to dilute their voting energy. There’s a delicate numerical goal of about 70-80 p.c nonwhite voters in a district to keep away from assumptions of packing or cracking.
Preserve that in thoughts as you look at a map of DeKalb showing residence by race.
Memorial Drive, Covington Freeway in Avondale Estates, Church Avenue and Stone Mountain Freeway are shiny dividing strains between white and Black DeKalb County. We dwell in deeply segregated communities. North of that line, census tracts are majority-white. Under that line, census tracts are 95 p.c or extra nonwhite. This stays the case till you get to the immigrant-friendly communities round Buford Freeway.
There’s no means to attract districts that neither crack nor pack Black folks, given the stark racial division on this county, with out making bacon strips.
This isn’t gerrymandering. Protect that time period for what it really means: drawing district strains to present legislators the very best shot at profitable a partisan race, with out regard to the pursuits of the neighborhood to be represented.
Please don’t mistake this for a protection of the redistricting course of. A system that enables legislators to choose their constituents is inherently flawed. And this legislature appears intent on screwing voters of colour. Simply … not right here. And never that colour.
The nonwhite voters in State Sen. Michelle Au’s district have been cracked – moved into adjoining districts – whereas extra conservative voters (learn: white) in Forsyth County have been moved into her north Fulton and Gwinnett County district. The brand new 48th Senate district may very well be contested by a Republican competitively in consequence. That is a racial gerrymander.
The state’s most likely going to get sued over it. And it ought to.
– George Chidi is a political columnist, public coverage advocate and a veteran. He additionally writes for The Intercept.
For those who admire our work, please become a paying supporter. For as little as $3 a month, you possibly can assist us hold you within the loop about your neighborhood. To grow to be a supporter, click on here.
Need Decaturish delivered to your inbox on daily basis? Join our free publication by clicking here.